Palm Os users usually see the Fossil WristPDA(review) as the first smart watch but this isnt true. A variety of manufacturers attempted to create and market all kinds of smart watches but Brandos is the first one to offer video playback and voice recording in addition to MP3 playback! Looks like an ambitious set of features how does the box fare in practice?
Like all other Brando products, the MP4 watch ships in a large envelope via standard mail. The envelope contains a huge box that contains the watch, a US-Only charger, the USB cable, a set of headphones, the software CD and a miserable manual:
Compared to the WristPDA, the Brando MP4 watch is quite a bit smaller, but also feels cheaper(especially the strap):
The watch has three buttons on each side; they are comfortable to press. The left side has the standard 25inch headset jack, the right side has the proprietary USB connector(this is NOT miniUSB!!!):
Brando claims that the MP4 watch has a 128×128 pixel OLED screen. While I cant confirm the OLEDness from the outside, the screen has exceptionally high contrast(next to Treo 600):
Black really is black here absolutely no residue light:
I tested the screen indoors and in mild sun, and had absolutely no problems. While the screen could maybe have been a tiny bit brighter, it does a very very good job overall!
The watch has a highly hierarchical menu system that has a graphical top layer:
Navigating through the menus can be difficult at times as key layouts change dependant on the screen it took me about 20 minutes to figure it all out.
The menu system itself is very very fast absolutely no lag here. However, long song names scroll by slowly this could have been solved better maybe:
The main feature of this watch IMHO is its ability to play back media. I installed a few MP3 files onto it and had no problems with the various standard bandwidths(128k, 192k, 260k). 320k files stutter every now and then a bit annoying, but the stuttering stops when the watch goes into sleep mode after a few seconds.
The player interface itself is simple you see the time remaining, the name of the song and how many songs are in the folder. When one folder is complete, the watch simply switches over to the next folder shuffle, custom playlists, etc are not available:
Forwarding and rewinding a song takes a very long time, as the watch keeps rewinding with an ever-constant rate of about 3 secs per real second. Also, finding tracks in folders is difficult because of the slow scroll speed of the file names:
The MPEG4 watch can record audio an impressive feature for such a small device. The quality of the recordings is very high, an hour takes about 60 megabytes of storage.
Here is a sample of a recording.
Brando claims that the MP4 watch can act as a photo viewer. I installed a few small JPEGs onto it bummer, no go!
Images need to be converted to RAW format with a desktop software. They can then be displayed one by one on the watchs screen and thats it. No zooming, panning, etc is supported:
Video playback works via a converter, too. A classic VGA review video from a digital camera grew by almost 50% when converted to the NXV format(128×128) the main problem is that the videos format was adjusted to be fullscreen compatible. So, a rectangular video gets square but it still looks pretty well.
Choosing a better-fitting aspect ratio in the converter works but you then have to put up with a white area at the bottom:
Conversion takes place in real-time converting a 50 second video takes 50 seconds..
Getting data onto the MP4 watch is simple if you have the connector cable handy connect the watch to the PC and it automatically starts charging:
When data is being transferred, the watch shows transfer on the status monitor data transfers work with about half a megabyte per second.
The included headphones provide good audio quality. However, I prefer my Icemat headphones in combination with Brandos headphone adaptor. Audio is more than loud enough for most genres no problems in this department either!
Being the smart watch freak that I am, this watch is an immediate buy(1GB version costs 99$, 2GB cost 139$). The software could still use a bit of fine-tuning(occasional crashes, quirky handling, extra features) and the manual is a joke but other than that, I cannot complain about this watch.
Videos look good, audio is clear, the battery holds a decent charge(5h of MP3 playback are no problem) if you like the idea of a watch that plays movies, get this one by all means!